Demolition of Ex-Pats' homes in Spain
25TH JANUARY 2010: Yesterday Nick Griffin tackled the Spanish Environment Minister over the demolition of homes, many owned by British expats, due to changes in planning regulations.
He was briefed by a short paper provided by Martin Wingfield and it is reproduced this below to show the extent of the problem.
Margarite Auken, the Danish MEP for the Green Party is the author of the “Auken Report”, which recommended EU sanctions against Spain if it did not act on illegal building and urban abuse, but the Spanish government has so far refused to give an official response to the report’s finding.
Nick didn’t fair much better yesterday – just an embarrassed wringing of hands from the Minister.
Briefing on demolition of homes in Spain
It is estimated that British expats own more than 600,000 properties in Spain, the highest number situated in Andalucía and in the Valencia region. Homes bought or built in good faith, many from property agents who offered complete service coordinating developer, local lawyer and council planning official. Now some homes have been declared illegal because they are new builds on rural protected land. Problem stems from a two tier planning system in which town halls, which have the authority to issue building licences, failed in many cases to adhere to regulations set by the regional government and allowed construction on designated rural land. Planning applications were approved by the local council which issued the appropriate building licences only for the regional government to revoke the licences as illegal and order the properties to be demolished.
A dozen British couples have been served with demolition orders for their homes near Almeria in South East Spain. Demolition to take place in March. Local Albox council approved the sales but the Andalucia Regional Council revoked the licences.
Most Celebrated Case:
Leonard and Helen Prior, both aged 64, in the same area whose property was demolished in January 2008 despite having planning permission from their local town hall. The permission was subsequently declared void and their home declared illegal. They are now living in a garage on the site of their demolished home.
Luis Caparros, head of planning and housing in Almeria, has recently declared a further 5,000 homes in the neighbouring Almanzora valley as illegal and owners are waiting to see if they will be demolished.
1,000 people, many British home owners and supporters, marched through Almería city on Monday 10th January against the plans to demolish the homes owned by eight British families in Albox and Vera.
It is not only the two tier planning system that is responsible for demolition of homes.
A pressure group of 20,000 still looking for compensation for demolished homes after the Spanish Coastal Law (ley de costas 1988) defined a public domain area along the coast and a further zone where special restrictions apply to private ownership.
Also legitimate rural properties have been requisitioned in what was known as “land grabs”, when areas were suddenly re-classified as urban zones and handed over to big developers to knock down the old homes and then build new ones.
Tourism and the environment:
Rural Andalucia was one of Spain’s poorest areas where locals had the shortest lifespan in the country. Property boom improved the environment and boosted the local economy. Huge media attention as to why British, German, and Scandinavian nationals were moving there in large numbers had a positive effect on tourism.
Now the demolitions has made Andalucia the place to avoid in Spain. People are leaving in droves and those in search of a home in the sun are now looking to Croatia, Turkey or Montenegro.